‘Making it’ in the art business isn’t exactly an easy feat — often perceived as a highly competitive and ultra-selective industry, many creatives or career artists have often wondered whether they will truly ever achieve the creative success they crave.
The road to that success is often paved with doubt – creatives not only question whether they’re talented enough to achieve recognition but often stumble along when trying to manage their marketing, thrive financially and build a long-lasting, self-sustaining art business or have fulfilling art careers.
New York-based startup Orangenius, Inc., which launched this week, was created to eliminate some of that guesswork. An online business and employment-oriented platform designed exclusively for creative professionals, Orangenius users can showcase their creative work with visual resumes and enhanced portfolio features, upload and record ownership of and enumerate their works, and give credit to collaborators for their contributions. In addition, organizations can find and hire creatives, and creatives can seek employment or network with potential clients.
Orangenius Aims to Help Creatives Launch Their Art Careers
Founder and CEO Grace Cho saw a marketplace that was brimming with talent, but lacked the interconnectivity so prevalent in other professional industries. A former financial industry executive, Cho noted that while other industries had clear-cut paths and tools for success, the art industry lacked the same clarity and available resources. She theorized that creating a simple-to-use technological platform would allow emerging artists more time to cultivate and better utilize the business skills inherent in their artistic training.
“Orangenius aims to simplify the process of finding and obtaining new opportunities by offering an easy-to-use web-based platform to showcase and share your creative work and accomplishments,” explained Cho at the platform’s launch event. “The basic tenets of Orangenius are to show and share your work beautifully, to give and get credit for work to which you contributed, and to create a thriving career doing what you love, by mastering the business skills required.”
While it may not seem so obvious that artists might actually possess a rigorous business acumen, leading experts in arts education would beg to differ. “As a society we tend to think in boxes, and a lot of people assume artists and creatives simply don’t possess certain skills,” says Heather Pontonio, the art program director of the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, an organization dedicated to closing the gap between art school and real world employment and entrepreneurship. “In fact, artists are experts at problem-solving: they know how to be cost-effective, they know how to manipulate materials for other uses; they acknowledge that the way things are isn’t what it has to be.”
Orangenius invited Pontonio, along with Sotheby’s Institute CEO Christine Kuan, and Art Students League CFO and COO Jennifer Solomon, to discuss strategies for creative success at its launch party at WeWork in Chelsea. The panel discussion, moderated by Scripps Networks Interactive‘s Creative Lead Sarah Hartley, attracted creative professionals from a variety of disciplines: from photographers and graphic designers, to curators, gallery owners, and creative recruiters.
For Cho, the diversity of the event’s attendees only demonstrates the fundamental need for a platform of this caliber. “When you see that creative professionals from a host of sectors coming under one roof to learn about how they can be better at running an art business or sustaining long-term art careers, you realize that there’s a connectivity issue across the board,” says Cho. “If gallerists and curators and creative recruiters are having trouble finding fresh and emerging talent, and photographers and fashion designers and visual artists are struggling to connect with decision makers, then the problem is a self-perpetuating cycle. The good news is that the cycle can be broken if we can gather these creative-minded individuals under one unified creative platform.”
Orangenius Panelists Give Their Advice for Managing an Art Business or Creative Career
Of course, the ability to connect with creative professionals in order to further art careers or when starting an art business is just one factor to creative success, as the panelists noted at the Orangenius launch. “For me, it’s about writing down your goals and creating a step-by-step approach to getting from A to B,” said Solomon. “You have to figure out what all those steps are in between in order to give yourself an action plan for success in art business.”
Kuan stressed the importance of understanding that artistry and creative talent is certainly an important component of achieving your creative goals, but so is the ability to navigate the art world professionally. “Understanding the basics to doing business in this field is at the core of what we teach at the Sotheby’s Institute,” she says. “We focus on financial skills, but we also highlight the importance of presenting your viewpoint and experience in a polished format, and honing some of those innate skills you naturally possess as an artist.”
Pontonio added that understanding who you are as an artist – both your limitations and your strengths – is crucial for success in an art business or when embarking on careers in art and design. “Artists and creatives need to figure out who their audience is if they’re going to be successful at selling themselves,” said Pontonio. “And if you determine that you can make a living doing various kinds of work with the same skill set, then you should have an elevator pitch for every different kind of client or buyer.”
The panelists agreed that art business owners and creative professionals should dedicate a substantial amount of time to honing their story and target audience. In order to do so, artists should do some soul-searching, said Pontonio. “Creatives should spend some time reaching out to artists whose work they admire or emulate, and ask them what worked and what didn’t for them.” In addition, creatives should list their skill set, and turn to their peers for additional guidance. “Building a network of partners who can help you identify your strengths while complementing your weaknesses is something a lot of creatives and artistic professionals do,” she said.
Kuan stressed that focusing on vision – whether artistic, strategic or curatorial – often allows an artist’s brand to naturally flourish. “The artist is the center of everything and the brand grows out of that vision,” she said. “Artists shouldn’t adjust for the market, but rather focus on finding that voice and then figuring out which audience that perspective would almost certainly attract.”
Utilizing the internet to capture those audiences is certainly an effective approach, but various artists expressed frustration with available technologies. “A practical, informative and convenient website is necessary for anyone who is creative and is looking to promote their work in a very affordable manner,” says Roberto Ferreira, a visual poet and artist that attended the panel.
When navigating the myriad tools available to artists in today’s digital marketplace, Pontonio suggests that using less is always more. “We’re excited about Orangenius because we feel like it’s a game-changer,” she said. “Having a one-stop shop to create customized portfolios and house all of your various creative endeavors will certainly make marketing yourself and your art business online a lot easier.”
How will you use the Orangenius platform? Let us know in the comments.